February is the month in which to begin carrying out such designs as were made earlier in the winter. The work will entail, probably, digging and trenching in open weather, lifting and laying turf, also path-making.
Before taking up turf, it should first be measured out into portions, three feet by one foot by one inch. The strips may then be cut down with a crescent-shaped edging knife, and the turves gently lifted with a turfing-iron. In sliding the iron under the turf, care must be taken to keep an even depth. The turves can then be rolled up for removing conveniently.
Wherever it is desired to relay the turf, the ground must be thoroughly broken, and some well-decayed manure incorporated with it, as otherwise the lawn will be liable to starvation in course of time. Leave it rough for a long enough period for it to settle, and afterwards make it quite even by raking. Borning-rods and a spirit-level are used for more extensive operations.
Much more might be made of the outdoor garden in winter, as regards decorative effect, by the introduction of those flowering shrubs and trees which give colour in February. Among such may be mentioned the Japanese quince, the spurge laurel and common mezereon, winter jasmine, and winter-blooming honeysuckles, grown near the cornelian tree. Among American shrubs, the early flowering rhododendrons are attractive. A very charming shrub in February is the winter-sweet, and bowls of its fragrant blossoms will be in request for the drawing-room.
Variegated evergreens are seen at their best in February, also shrubs with conspicuous berries; among other graceful subjects, too, the witch hazel should be grown.
China, or monthly, roses may now be pruned. The strong-growing varieties must not be shortened much, except in the case of shoots intended for next season's wood. Roses can now be planted in rich soil.
Photo, F. Murray & Sorts
Trenching and replanting borders may now be done if there is need, and weather permits. Superphosphate of lime can be added to the ground while trenching, or basic slag in heavy soils.
Borders which have been replanted within the last year or so, and so do not need drastic treatment, should be top-dressed with manure. Vacant spaces can be filled by dividing plants already in the border.
Plant Japanese and poppy anemones, ranunculi, imported lilies, and Japanese iris. Divide double daisies, pinks, polyanthi, thrift, and London pride. Put in wallflowers and forget-me-nots, where autumn planting was not advisable.
Box edgings may be planted this month. In doing so, the soil should be drawn round and firmed with a piece of board.
The attractive appearance of glasshouses, especially in winter, demands that they should be kept extremely neat. For this reason, all dead flowers and dying leaves must be removed constantly, and the soil in pots stirred over.
Glass should be thoroughly cleaned after the fog and dirt of winter, and as much air and sunshine as possible should be admitted. Foliage plants must be sponged, and general cleanliness, including freedom from pests, should receive attention.
Early annuals, late chrysanthemums, cliyia, arum lilies, cyclamen, cineraria, primula, begonia, ranunculus, gesnera, wallflowers, and forget-me-nots should be in flower now, as well as winter carnations and all kinds of forced bulbs in succession; Cape cowslips (lachenelia) are among the latter, and are not as much used as they might be.
Many bedding plants may this month be started into growth, in order to provide stock for spring cuttings. Dahlia tubers should be placed in shallow boxes of soil or cocoanut fibre, well moistened, and placed on the bench in full light.
It is a good time to pot lily bulbs imported from Japan, using plenty of sand and a little peat in the compost, which should be rather rich, and plunging the pots until their basal shoots are made. Leave a quarter of the pot unfilled with soil, so that more compost can be added when stem-roots begin to form on stem-rooting varieties.
An early sowing of sweet peas may be made, and half-hardy annuals should be sown. Among the latter are lobelia, amar-anthus, stocks, and balsams, with perilla and golden feather as foliage plants. Indian pinks can be treated as annuals if sown at once.
Cyclamens may be re-sown to provide a succession to those of which the seed was put in last autumn. Begonias and gloxinias should be sown now; petunias and verbenas also. The verbena no longer holds favour as in earlier days, but it is an attractive plant, nevertheless, and the old mauve variety, verbena venosa, deserves a revival of popularity.